O these "best of year" lists! What good are they? Must everything in life be a competition?
Yet they help to focus the mind and provide a moment of synthesis. And this year, so scattered in so many ways, needed that more than most.
So, flawed and full of holes, based on incomplete listening and silly forgetfulness, here is my list of the dozen best jazz records of 2011, compiled with fellow PopMatters critic John Garratt: The Best Jazz of 2011.
For me, the top disc, the one that still thrills me the most is the Blue Note debut of trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusere. It still sounds to me like this young(ish) artist is playing his instrument in a genuinely new way, moving past some boundary previously established and also bring a great young band along with him (or, maybe I should write: being propelled forward by a great young band). If you are going to fish for just one 2011 jazz record, that's the one.
Apologies to Tyshawn Sorey, Gretchen Parlato, and many others who really should be on here. The cookie, she crumbles at the end of the year.